• Offered by School of History
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject History
  • Areas of interest History, International Relations, Security Studies, European Studies, Politics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Ben Mercer
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2021
    See Future Offerings

Terror, terrorist acts and terrorism are as old as human history. Individuals, sects, cults, despotic rulers, revolutionaries, political organizations, independence movements, 'freedom fighters' and modern nation states have for millennia used terror (violence, fear and intimidation) to advance their interests. Despite this, acts of terror when they occur continue to shock and surprise the community, society or nation in which they take place. Each generation it seems views terror and terrorism as something unique, frightening and new.

This course will explore the modern history of terror, terrorism and counter-terrorism. Beginning with the birth of modern terrorism — 'The Terror' of Revolutionary France — it will examine how terror has been used, justified, fought, changed, surged, ebbed and periodically reappeared since 1793. A series of case studies will look at different categories of terror and terrorism: revolutionary terror, anarchist terrorism, nationalist (and anti-colonial) campaigns of terror, and the use of terror methods by modern nation states and those who challenge their power. We will also examine how terror and terrorism is shaped by the transformations of technology and media. Terrorism may appear ubiquitous today, but one should not assume that terrorism itself has changed. This course will explore the continuities, transformation and ironies to be found in the history of terror over the last two centuries.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. critically analyse how terror and the use of violence to provoke fear and intimidate societies, governments and nations has been employed over the last two centuries;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of the different types and evolving nature of terror;
  3. evaluate the different theories of terrorism and how the perpetrators of acts of terror have attempted to justify their actions; and
  4. use evidence, apply theory, formulate arguments and express their views in both oral and written form.

Indicative Assessment

  1. 1,000 word documentary evaluation (15) [LO 1,2,4]
  2. 2,000 word essay (35) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Tutorial participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  4. Final examination (30) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  5. Lecture Responses (4 x 200 words) (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorial and tutorial-like activities; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed ANUC1108

Prescribed Texts

Charles Townsend, Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2002

There will also be a reading brick containing all tutorial reading.  The reading brick will be made available to students electronically via WATTLE.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
5450 26 Jul 2021 02 Aug 2021 31 Aug 2021 29 Oct 2021 In Person N/A

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